One of the most frequent emails I get is asking what my favorite lens is…well it changes frequently….like the paint in my house. I will say 99% of the time it is my 50mm or my 85mm. I switch back and forth between those two. The thing about lenses is there is so much, but so little, to consider. The aperture is a huge factor. It is the number behind the “f/” on a lens…in general the smaller that number the better.Β  The other is lens focal length. I am not going to get into a focal length definition or lesson, but just note that it is the number before the ‘mm’. Below is a comparison of three lenses: 28mm, 50mm, 85mm. In these photos I am standing at the exact same spot and all my camera settings are exactly the same. The only thing that changed is the lens on the camera.

In general here are some guidelines on lenses in relation to their focal length (the number before the ‘mm’):

21-35mm Wide Angle – Good for Landscapes, it can be distorting when used for portraits

35-70mm Normal – Good for Basic, Everyday

70-135mm Medium Telephoto – Good for Portraits, it can be difficult in a smaller area. For instance, indoors in a regular size room it is difficult to get a full view of the scene (get the birthday boy blowing out candles, but not any of his friends in the picture too)

Both Nikon and Canon have 50mm f/1.8 lenses…I recommend that as a great, affordable option for everyday use.



And…since that post is boring without more mud pictures….here you go. This is what my boys were doing when I was cleaning the house for Saturday’s SnapShop. I used my 85mm lens for the rest of these.

Goodness do they love mud.

What – you might ask- is so entertaining in the plastic bin?

A booty print of course. When you are four and six year old boys there isn’t much in life funnier than the ability to leave an imprint of your rear in mud. Pure joy.

A close second to making mud booty prints is the extremely talented skill of making tooting noises with your mud covered hands…and letting your big bro pour mud on you. Oh to be a little boy.

I was cleaning the inside…he helped with the outside.

The countdown is beginning…next Sunday I must say goodbye to friends I have grown to love over the past 6 years….I’m a little more reflective and sad this week.

Happy Monday.

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  • Nicole - Love the mud photos! You do a great job of capturing their joy.

  • Jodi - Oh I just love these! What lens did you use for the rest of the photos?

  • Anna Joy - Love the photos! I played in mud when I was little and those are great memories I have of my childhood!

  • candace - Love it! The tips but especially the mud pictures! My sister-in-law had to “teacher” their 2 and 4 year old foster sons how to play in the mud – they had never done it before! They are happy, blessed little boys now – just like yours!

  • ashlee - so my question is…do you hose them off outside before they come inside to your lovely clean home:)

  • Shannon - What did I miss? What’s happening next Sunday?? Sounds sad!

  • Kim - Ashley – the only complaint I have about your blog is that every time I read it … I want more kids!! I am going to have to spend the day convincing myself otherwise, again. Thanks for sharing your camera knowledge!

  • Cate O'Malley - Love the pictures. It sure doesn’t take much to make kids happy. It’s the letting-go-and-letting-mud-fly on the parents side that is much harder. πŸ˜‰

  • Shanalea Atchison - Boys and mud a perfect combination.

  • Sarah - oh my goodness…what fun! i can’t wait until carter gets a little bit older to play in the mud!

  • chantelle - yippee! I love lessons-I can’t wait until nap time to read over your post again and again!
    mud shot-love them all!…how did you get them clean?

  • Andrea Jett - Oh my gosh, LOST is ending! I share your pain, sadness and general melancholy. πŸ˜‰

  • AshleyAnn - Jodi…I used my 85mm for the rest, I just added that info to the post.

  • susie whyte - i bought a canon 50mm f/1.8 about a month ago and i’ve seriously only taken it off my camera twice. once being at my husbands graduation this weekend. i LOVE it. and you’re right…you can’t beat the price.

  • anne c - ashley, as always I am impressed..not only with your photos but how you juggle everything! How did you have the time to be outside taking cute mud photos…inside cleaning..taking care of baby sister and then getting those muddy boys clean! geez! I am exhausted thinking about it. When I feel overwhelmed..I think of you and how you get everything done with 4 kids! wow! you go girl!

  • Stacey - my guys love mud too…at least you have them all clothed in these pictures…mine are usually naked!!

  • eeny - Oh how much fun it is to play in the mud.
    I love those pictures.

  • amanda torres - That was a very dirty post! DIRTY, DIRTY, DIRTY!

  • valerie - wow! What great little boy photos….and that mud…a simple and cheap toy..and they had a ball you can tell by your photos! Did you hose them off afterwards????:) love your photos and photo tips. Thanks and have a great mud free day!

  • Jenn - My husband has been trying to get me into photography forever and it wasn’t until he let me borrow his 50 mm lens that I have even taken to it. Now that lens could probably be called mine since he asks to borrow it from me!

  • robyn - you are a BRAVE mama!

  • tanya - loved these lens tips-very helpful…thanks for sharing!

  • Faith - Are your lenses prime? I’m thinking of getting a 35mm 1.2….but I wonder if I’ll regret that it’s not more versatile. What’s your favorite wedding ceremony lens?

  • maria - This post is so awesome!!! i have a 3 year old boy and man would he have been happy joining the mud fun. also thanks for the lens tips, i was just wondering what lens to buy next for my nikon!

  • the inadvertent farmer - This is exactly why we put in an outdoor shower…boys, mud, country living means lots of fun and LOTS of clean up! Kim

  • Liene - mmm, I am getting to understand a little about photography now! Thanks! Keep on teaching us, please?

  • Jodi - Thanks for the lens info!

  • Alba - thanks once again for your fantastic and easy tips. May I come with my kids to play with the mud?

  • Jane - As I type this, a huge hole is being dug in our back yard for a pool. My little guy is going to go crazy when he sees it. Hopefully, there will be a little safe area where he can play in it. Thank you for the lens tips. I have the Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens a love it, although I still need to learn how to use it properly. The biggest challenge I have is using it outside and not being able to go down to the lower f stops (in Aperture priority) because if over-exposes in sunlight. But I still want to have the effect of a shallow dept of field but often need to go up as high as 7 for the lowest possible shutter speed. Oh, so much to learn. I’m keeping my eyes out for the next Snap Shop dates announcement. For the record, I LOVE your photo tips. I wish you had on every single day. I learn so much from them. :)

  • Audrey - Reader from Singapore! Thanks for this post! Your photos are beautiful and so are your children! :)

All my giveaway winner are chosen at random, using the Random Number Generator. The Tweet Baby Designs winner is,

lifeologia – “I like how squeezed in a lesson, your little princess, and a giveaway;)Well done.
I try to laugh at myself for not being in control of my life and my body…. When a chronic illness comes your way – that’s all you can do;)

Thanks for noticing all that I squeezed into that post! You should really take the time to go visit her blog.



Don’t forget Tweet Baby Designs is still offering a 10% discount to my readers, just mention this blog in the ‘notes to seller’ when you check out. The discount will be refunded via PayPal.

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  • lifeologia - Oh my. I didn’t expect this at all.
    Thank you Thank you Thank you.
    (I am so bummed about my typo though, bleh πŸ˜‰
    This will be a lovely gift for my sister’s little 2 month old boy.
    You’re Awesome and Tweet Baby Design is Awesome too.

Remember this post…My Son the Goat Whisperer? If you didn’t read the blog back then, you should read it…you know because I am such a great writer and I think you should read whatever I post and all. No really, if you want one of my favorite photo tips you should read it.

Well onto this visit, the goats keep having babies and the boys keep loving the baby goats.

…take me home country road to the place where I beloooong…

Baby goats really are pretty cute…big goats, not so much

When I took this picture I was so focused on the act of getting the picture I didn’t realize how close I was to those horns.

Run sweet baby goat RUN!

Baby Goat I am sorry my boys captured you.

Baby Goat I am sorry my 2 year old licked your head.

Baby Goat…next time I am going to hold you. I’m going get a turn.

Baby Sister – when you wear your brothers’ old pjs you look so much like them….and now you are bigger than the Baby Goat.

He is the same height as the goats and just walked among them as if he did it everyday….they didn’t really even mind him.

His dad has a few stories of bodily injuries caused by goats when he was little…I think my little guy will probably have a few of those stories one day too.

Grandpa is actually a pretty happy guy…

Don’t forget the Tweet Baby Designs giveaway is still going on…scroll down to enter.

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  • Shannon - What a lovely little peek into family life! I love how comfortable they are with the goats (the old post is to. die. for!) and how special that they get to be near their grandpa and share in such a fun memory maker!

  • Jill R - I love a good goat post. Happy Friday!

  • Rachel - I know my 21 month old has a penchant for licking all things gross (i.e. fire hydrants, playground equipment, carpeting…a goat would not be a stretch). A wise mom asked me if I had a pretty good idea of how those things would feel on my tongue. I had to admit I did. She reminded me that at one time we all had to build our tongue texture database!

  • Alba - Did he really lick the head? poor thing, I mean poor little goat!!!!!!! πŸ˜‰ Fantastic, fantastic pics!

  • chantelle - your dad’s loving and protective hand on your son’s back speaks volumes about his love for you and the boys……what beautiful pictures!

  • Lesley - Great Friday morning start to the day! Those baby goats are too cute!! Love the licking of the goat, such a strange boy :)

  • bopha - i bet the lick just reminded the goat of his mommy, R has that nurturing instinct :)

  • Ashley - I want goats … lots and lots of them! And of course I read your post on the goat-whisperer because you ARE a great writer AND a great photographer AND I love this blog!

  • Mariah - I just went back and read about yor Little Goat Whisperer. Sometimes the purity and tenderness of their little hearts brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it? They are such little blessings! I am so thankful for those beautiful fleeting moments when I fully appreciate the goodness of God.

  • Susanne - My 2 1/2 year old is a huge goat whisperer too. He loves it when we go to the petting farm. Last time he had a baby goat in a head lock trying to feed it a bottle.

  • amanda torres - I love the ‘action’ shot of Chris chasing the goat down. Too funny!

  • Sarah - Those goats are so cute! we went to the petting zoo last weekend and my 14month old loved the goats too! did littlest brother say how the goat tasted? lol

  • Liene - I so much like your pictures. I love the ones with your youngest son in it. The one where they chase the little goat, little brother is looking at biggest brother in a very special way, he looks at his brother to see what to do. Then the picture where he opens his arms to hug the baby goat is so cute too. Really, very pretty pictures, and it is so great that you want to share those pictures with us. It is a joy to read your blog everyday!

  • meg duerksen - when annie’s preschool brought in a baby goat i came home determined that we needed to own a baby goat too. it took me all day to decide that it wasn’t a good idea.
    a goat?
    in the house?
    but man…..those babies are sooooo cute.
    cute enough to seriously consider getting one!

  • valerie - love the goat photos and your kids are adorable…and your photos speak loudly! How do you get them so big on your posts? I love the little one with the Starbucks cup and the yellow flowers…your property looks divine.

  • shawn krehbiel - Oh my goodness, we are laughing so hard because of grandma’s story and now seeing the pictures!!!! Thank you for sharing!!! Love sis-n-law, Shawn

  • Michelle W - What good fun with Gramps. Thanks for sharing such adorable family moments

  • lifeologia - You made goats running in a backyard look so normal like it was a bunch of puppies.
    Lovely family time. It’s time we got ourselves to a farm somewhere. Have a lovely weekend.

  • Tracie - The last picture is my favorite. I love how Grandpa has his arm around your son. That is precious!

  • Jenn G. - One of my favorites EVER!! You should totally start a rodeo. Also, the pic of Grandpa C made me laugh out loud… priceless.

  • Tae - i LOVE these photos. (and the ones from the first post!) they are so cute and the big goats are cute too! love that close-up. beautiful photos. your son is just like me (i would have snuggled with goats at his age, too… still might actually!)

    what does “grandpa” raise goats for? and is it somewhere that allows visitors? (my husband and i are road-tripping this summer and going through OK… we’re looking for places to go, and we love farms :)


  • Holly Lesue - What great shots! It seems like Baby Sister has tons more hair all of a sudden! But maybe it’s just the angle and I haven’t noticed until now…?